Predation Matters

Today, Pew unleashed a mini-media blitz on the importance of predation in fisheries management.  This got my attention because the interaction between marine predators and fisheries is one of my major research interests.  They do a great (and slickly-designed) job explaining the basics of why paying attention to predation matters in fisheries management, and bonus points for using the most noble of sharks as one of their examples.  Check out the video here:


I particularly like that they go into enough detail to lay out options for incorporating predation into fisheries.  Personally, I’m a big fan of the “second fleet” option, in which predators are counted as another source of fishing mortality (and some of my favorite papers are cited in support of it).  It does require the most effort, but provides the most accurate estimations of predation mortality (and justifies funding for diet studies?  Please?).  Multi-species models are ideal, and really the only way to conclusively prove that trophic cascades are actually happening.  Precautionary buffers, in my opinion, should really follow thorough diet studies, but are certainly another important aspect of ecosystem-based management.

It’s neat to finally see this subject getting some attention.  Here’s hoping the word continues to get out about the importance of shark puke.


State of the Field: Too big, too small, just right – the Goldilocks Conundrum of Conservation

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scale can really change perspective... take this fruit fly eye, for example, at scanning electron microscope scale - it looks like an army of hairs

Scale seems like a simple term with a simple definition, a concept certainly not up for debate. Well, digging just a little deeper we find that the nuances of a term that is used in almost every discipline make it important to make sure everyone’s on the same page. Furthermore, it’s important to make sure that the concept gets some attention, some time on the agenda, and some problem-solving energy.

In the world of conservation, scale mismatches are often a visible failure of policies, leading to recent calls for ecosystem-based management that trace scales of governance according to ecosystem boundaries instead of political boundaries. This has led to the existence of “peace parks” protecting wildlands that cross national borders, watershed management plans, and attention to habitat protection in environmental species conservation, to name a few examples. However, matching governance to ecosystem scale is only one type of scale adjustment that needs to occur.

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